2016 Session To Address Rising Industrial Electric Bills

Dec 1, 2015

Credit Rennett Stowe / https://www.flickr.com/photos/tomsaint/13826276284

Legislators are looking to slam the brakes on rising electric costs. Ten years ago, industrial electric bills in Indiana were the sixth-lowest in the U.S. They've risen by two-thirds since then and now rank 26th.

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says it's starting to interfere with economic development. He says the low taxes Indiana has trumpeted for years in some cases are being outweighed by the lower power bills in neighboring, high-tax Illinois.

Legislative leaders in both parties say they'll push for a halt to so-called "trackers," bills which allow utilities to recoup hardware costs without going through a formal rate hike hearing before utility regulators. But Bosma says that's only the first step. He says companies need more flexibility.

Sen. Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) says legislators should remove barriers to steps like solar panels.

“We have to allow the industrial users the ability to be creative in generating their own power,” Breaux says.

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) says Indiana needs to do more to encourage the use of alternative energy.

“Governor Daniels used to talk about being a big, energy-producing state,” Pelath says. “That sometimes gets a little complicated because it often gets mixed up in fossil fuels to varying degrees, but we have emerging technologies that are going to be able to add electrons to the grid.”

And legislators might revisit a debate about how much businesses can reduce their bills by installing solar panels or taking other steps to generate electricity for themselves.